End in sight for human-wildlife conflicts

THE government has outlined measures aimed at providing permanent solution to human-wildlife conflicts including preparation of a ten-year strategic plan, which among other things will reinstate wildlife officers at village and ward levels.

The government also issued strong directives to wildlife conservation officers to make sure they take prompt actions whenever the wild animals invade residential areas in order to reduce harm which may occur.

Winding up debate for 654.6bn/- budget estimates for his docket, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mr Mohamed Mchengerwa warned that underperforming wildlife officers will not be tolerated because there is no reason for people to continue facing wildlife attacks.

The minister’s directives were in response to ‘grave concern’ raised by some Members of Parliament (MPs) with regard to frequent elephant invasion in their respective areas.

The MPs said that despite causing fear, the animals have caused loss of lives and massive damage of properties including crops thus leading to shortage of food in some area.

The lawmakers said that the wildlife invasion into people’s areas has been a long-time complaint adding that, the government has not done enough to address the problem.

Responding, the minister said that the government is coming up with the ten–year strategic plan, which is expected to provide lasting solution to the problem.

“The plan will identify short- and long-term steps which will be taken to curb human wildlife conflicts,” the minister said.

Mr Mchengerwa noted that, each district in the country has a wildlife officer but unfortunately, they are not known even to the MPs.

“We should ask ourselves- what are these officers doing in the districts because I also doubt whether the MPs are aware of their presence,” Mchengerwa said.

He noted that, during independence Mwalimu Julius Nyerere set the basis by ensuring that each village and ward had a wildlife officer.

“To date things have changed … we don’t have these officers in either villages or wards we have already talked to the Prime Minister and he has directed us to come up with the strategic plan to reinstate them,” the minister said.

Mr Mchengerwa admitted that there has been delay by wildlife and forest conservation paramilitary force to take prompt measures when people are attacked by wild animals.

He explained that, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism through Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA), Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS) and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) are led by the paramilitary force.

He explained that, whenever pastoralists or citizens invade national parks or conserved areas, the force has been taking swift actions to remove them, but it has not been the case when the wild animals invade residential areas.

“I should admit that there have been delays in taking actions when wild animals invade residential areas,” he said.

He queried that, “If the force can take prompt actions when national parks are invaded people why not when people are attacked by wild animals. Mchengerwa said he has already met leaders with TANAPA, TAWA, TFS and NCAA and other leaders from Chama Cha Mapinduzi who live in the areas facing wildlife invasions.

“We have agreed that any conservation leader who will allow these complaints from MPs to continue it means he has failed to deliver and I will deal with him.”

He added that, they have agreed that everyone must work professionally because there was no reason for people to continue facing such challenge.

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